A few thoughts on Masterchef and Fleabag…

Fie for today on Theresa May and her throne of games; fie for today on the unravelling of the Brexit dream/nightmare (delete as appropriate). Let’s just watch television instead, and no you’re not allowed to turn on the news for it will only make you bad-tempered or pool you in despair.

Masterchef (BBC1) finished last night – and thank heavens for that. That show is so damn addictive for a programme that just features people cooking for two over-fed judges who shovel the calories down their throats while the cameras roll, pausing on John Torode’s way with a fork – hover, waggle, open wide and in it goes – or Gregg Wallace’s way with the cheesy chat and over-enthusiastic consumption of puddings.

How did you spend some of your evening last night, you might ask? Oh, watched a bald man in a shocking pink waistcoat salivate over assorted puddings. At the time I was sitting on the viewing sofa eating a modest dish of rhubarb and yoghurt.

If you don’t want to know who won, look away now. It was retired banker Irini Tzortzoglou, from Crete by way of Cartmel. She has no plans to open a restaurant, apparently, whereas you suspect the runners-up in an all-women final probably fancy a shot at that. I was rooting for Delia, the charming policewoman from Essex by way of Kent, while my partner on the viewer sofa was cheering for Jilly, the equally charming rugby player turned Scottish teacher.

All the food looked great, but someone had to win; and it was Irini, annoying at times, although the other two finalists seemed to love her.

Anyway, that’s enough of watching people eat bizarre food for another year. Like all such shows, Masterchef is more about the people than the food – hence the manipulative drama-cranking with all that absurdly dramatic music to introduce a plate of food.

It’s a spectacle but one I love.

As for Fleabag (BBC1 by way of the non-terrestrial BBC Three), this second series is a jaw-dropping marvel/rocky family horror show. Phoebe Waller-Bridge plays the titular Fleabag, sexually promiscuous in an unhappy way in the first series; falling in love/lust with Andrew Scott’s priest in the new series.

Having Fleabag move from sexual recklessness to a devotional crush on a priest is a clever move from Waller-Bride, who also writes this painful jewel of a series.

Fleabag is occasionally very funny, but much of the time it is car-crash cruel, raw and exposing. It’s brilliantly written and easily the best show on TV right now.

Last Monday’s episode features a confessional scene of painfully uncomfortable brilliance, in which Fleabag breaks down and says she doesn’t know how to live her life. One of the strongest pieces of drama you’ll ever have seen in what is, notionally at least, a comedy.

Waller-Bridge looks amazing in this series too, as stylish as she is sad, and she maintains that lovely trick of mugging directly to the camera. She can say a lot without saying a word; and she can summon deep acres of angst with a few words. She is a writer to treasure and envy.

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